Skip to main content

Ford v. Wainwright 477 U.S. 399 (1986)

FORD v. WAINWRIGHT 477 U.S. 399 (1986)

The Supreme Court held, 5–4, that the infliction of capital punishment on an insane prisoner violates the ban on cruel and unusual punishments imposed by the Eight Amendment and the fourteenth amendment. Justice thurgood marshall for the majority applied the principle that the Eighth Amendment recognizes the evolving standards of decency of a maturing society. No state today permits the execution of the insane. Even at the time of the adoption of the bill of rights, the common law disapproved execution of the insane because it lacked retributive value and had no deterrence value. Marshall ruled that Florida's procedure for determining a condemned prisoner's sanity failed to rely on the judiciary to ensure neutrality in fact-finding.

The dissenting Justices contended that the Eighth Amendment did not mandate a right not to be executed while insane. Justice william h. rehnquist observed that at common law the executive controlled the procedure by which the sanity of the condemned prisoner was judged. The dissenters refused to endorse a constitutional right to a judicial determination of sanity before the death penalty could be imposed. Justice lewis f. powell was the swing vote in this case. He agreed that the Eighth Amendment prohibited the execution of the insane, but declined to endorse Justice Marshall's virtual requirement of a judicial proceeding to determine sanity.

Leonard W. Levy
(1992)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ford v. Wainwright 477 U.S. 399 (1986)." Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ford v. Wainwright 477 U.S. 399 (1986)." Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ford-v-wainwright-477-us-399-1986

"Ford v. Wainwright 477 U.S. 399 (1986)." Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. . Retrieved November 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ford-v-wainwright-477-us-399-1986

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.